As a new season kicks off, the NY Academy squad welcomes two new student athletes to the leadership team. Malery and Calaysha have been selected as Captains of this impressive High School program – an appointment they do not take lightly. Ryszard Chadwick, the NY Academy Manager, shared with us his philosophy on selecting player leadership teams, and the influence that a successful Captain can have on the whole squad.
Play Rugby USA’s NY Academy uses a ‘player centered’ approach, however I prefer the term ‘person centered’ because I believe the purpose of the Academy is to develop excellence within the ‘person’ first and the ‘player’ second. A former coaching mentor of mine proposes that effective coaching is ‘80% feet off grass’. Oftentimes people look at a successful athlete and they only see 20% of the story – the success, the glory of hoisting a trophy. But it’s the other 80% – the commitment, discipline, failures, problems, hardships, adversity – that it takes to succeed.
As a coach it is my duty to work with the individual to help them work on and improve this 80% a lot of which is done ‘off grass’, away from the training field.
When you are looking after 50 players it can be difficult for a single coach to positivily effect and challenge each individual all the time. One solution of many to this coaching challenge is to select player captains and leadership teams that contribute positively to the growth of their teammates.
In each team there are three different types of individuals: Leaders, Influencers and Followers.
Leaders – People who are themselves focus on growth and are not influenced by social pressure
Influencers – People who need attention and to know that they have an audience.
Followers – People who will follow the person in the easiest way.
In order for a team to work effectively there should be a balance of each type, each equally as important as the others. Many times the followers will follow the influencers so it is important for team dynamics that the influencers stays on the right side otherwise they can negatively impact the team. On the flip side, if the influencers is in the right mind-set they can do powerful things to a team.
For the NY Academy captains I look for someone who is a leader and an individual that is content with themselves and not intimidated or pressured by team dynamics. Captain selections have very little to do with on-field athletic performance, and more to do with the person and they’re ‘80% feet off grass’ development.
With this guiding philosophy I’m pleased to introduce the NY Academy captains, Claysha and Malery.
Academy Captain – Calaysha
“From the moment I started playing rugby, I’ve never been the “leader.” I was always the shy, timid player. Being made Academy Captain For Play Rugby has exposed a new level of confidence and leadership skills I never even knew I had. At first, I didn’t think I was the best fit for this position because of my reserved personality, but being captain has challenged and forced me to come out of my comfort zone. Now, I’m more than honored and ecstatic to be captain and I can’t thank my team enough for supporting me.”
Girls Captain – Malery
“Being made the girls captain was a great surprise that caught me off guard but it is truly an honor. Since the announcement I’ve received a lot of encouragement and support from my fellow teammates. I am proud to be the new girl’s captain. In the past, players have been discouraged and put down because of minor mistakes that they’ve made, some of them even left the team because of that. My job is to uplift and encourage my teammates because no one is perfect and there is always room for improvement. Being captain is a lot of responsibility but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I’m up for the challenge and I’m determined to make this a better team, and make the players feel a whole lot better about themselves and what they can do. Being captain to me means taking back what’s ours- our state championship title. I have faith in my team, and I know we will dominate this season.”
More about the NY Academy
The NY Rugby Academy is a rugby-based college preparatory program for 9th to 12th grade students who participate in regional (travel) rugby competitions, strength and conditioning training, financial literacy education and 1:1 mentoring programs. Serving on average 50 student athletes each year this program boasts a 100% graduation rate among high school seniors, and 100% college enrollment rate. These figures are in stark contrast to the NYC average HS graduation rate of only 64%. The student athletes who come through our Academy program are better prepared to tackle life’s challenges and achieve their full potential.